Craig Debating Himself

Ken Perrott at the blog Open Parachute found two different reports of a recent talk by William Lane Craig. The centerpiece of the talk was the now famous empty chair, representing the fact that Richard Dawkins refuses to debate creationists in general and Craig in specific.[*]

But somehow it seems that Dawkins made his presence felt, because his argument that Craig is a genocide apologist had to be answered. One attendee, Sarah Gashi, wrote:

However, ultimately one question exposed Craig’s alarmingly questionable moral principles: “Dawkins has refused to debate you because (he says) you think genocide could be acceptable in some contexts. Have you ever said anything which warrants this view, and what do you actually think?” He started with the straightforward denial that we expected – “I have not in any way ever said that God commanded, or could command, human genocide”. However, the following ten minute explanation of Numbers 33:50-54 (look it up) did not involve a justification of genocide, merely a justification of the mass displacement of an ethnic group; the kicker at the end was his summary that if this forced displacement did involve killing some Canaanites, well the adults deserved it because they were sinful, and it’s alright because the children went straight to heaven. Seriously?

Another attendee, James Rothwell, caught this comment:

One attendee, who wished not be named, called Craig’s argument “alarming”: “I’m a Christian who generally agrees with Craig’s ideas but what he said for the last question was simply disturbing. He completely contradicted himself, one minute saying that, effectively, no children were killed in the genocide, only to say later on that it was OK that children died, that it was God’s will, and that they were saved from a debauched culture.”

He added: “I believe in a benevolent God, but that didn’t sound very benevolent at all.”

Craig has a problem. His argument that all morality comes from God leads ultimately to the discussion of genocide, and genocide is bad PR. That leads him to kettle logic like the above: it didn’t really happen that way, and even when it did happen that way it doesn’t matter. You don’t need Dawkins there to point out the problems with this kind of argument.

[*] As an aside, I like Deacon Duncan’s suggestion that Dawkins should now challenge God to a debate and come to all his events with an empty chair for the Ancient of Days. Only to make it work it should probably be a throne.